Gallery of enthusiasts and collectors
The collection of Małopolska’s Virtual Museums is not only composed of extremely valuable objects but also very common things of everyday use, important mainly because they are traces of old practises, customs, coding an image of a world which is already gone.
Each one of them is connected to a gallery of figures, not only of artists or craftsmen but also inventors, owners and collectors. On our website, they have a chance to stand side by side and tell us their stories.
Włodzimierz Puchalski – enthusiast, traveller, but above all, photographer who could capture the secret life of nature perfectly.
During the war, in order to hide the most precious belongings, he buried his cameras in the Puszcza Sandomierska forest. Only after the war did he return to photography. Almost all his photographs were black and white and it was not only because he thought that these photographs reflected the beauty of nature better, but because of the fact that he was colour blind. Only his last photographs, which were taken in Antarctica, were colour photos.
At the age of 69 in 1979, he set out on an expedition, which turned out to be his last one. He died on King George Island leaving his films of photographs and cameras, which accompanied him during the different stages of his life.
Anna Puchalska, his daughter, said that during his last dream expedition he found a cricket on one of his chests, which was called Puchalski’s trustee; and when the cricket froze to death, the scientist foresaw that it was his time too. He passed away the next day.
Puchalski not only took photographs, but also made nature documentaries. Generations of filmmakers and photographers have learnt the profession by using his photographs and films. Apart from his rich filmography, he has his star on the avenue of stars in the city of Łódź.
He could imitate sounds of birds perfectly and watched them for hours. And nature repaid him for his patience: surprised owls in a nest, steppe polecats frolicking in shoes (while making a film on gophers, Puchalski found them by chance, abandoned by their mother), a frog which stood next to a small nightingale.
As one of the first, he said that photographing animals at large is a bloodless hunt. He was the first to organise a nature exhibition in 1936.
In the collection of Małopolska’s Virtual Museums, one can see Puchalski’s first cameras on which he learnt his photography skills and took his first shots.
Włodzimierz Tomek – forester, scientist, enthusiast.
During 50 years of his work, he documented mainly the diversity of Polish fauna. The exhibits collected by him concerned mainly ornithology. Krystyna Tomek, his wife, also contributed to creating the collection – she established a unique entomological collection.
Today, closed in showcases, they look at visitors with their glass eyes – the history of Włodzimierz Tomek’s thoughtful care of animals is hidden behind each of them. His fame spread over the neighbouring areas and through the years people delivered him birds which needed help – young, sick, abandoned, unable to live on their own. Their fate coincided with the fate of his family members – like the starling named Rajek which was raised in a house since being a nestling. Just like other starlings, at some point it started to imitate sounds; however, its repertoire was strictly domestic: clatter of wheels, creaking of doors, whistling of a kettle. Włodzimierz Tomek, PhD, even taught it to utter his wife’s name. One day important visitors paid him a visit, but the host was not at home. Leaving the house they heard the starling which spoke with the voice of its owner: “Krystyna, Krystyna!”. The visitors felt cheated to such an extent that they never visited Włodzimierz Tomek again.
Włodzimierz Tomek, PhD, observed animals, but also did experiments: by changing food given to a red-headed Bullfinch, he proved that a bird fed differently would become black.
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